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W H I T E PA P E R Getting Started with Application Virtualization From Leslie Easter, Principal Consultant, Flexera Software Consulting Services, and author of Bulletproof Installs and The Orange Brain’s Guide to AdminStudio
Getting Started withApplication VirtualizationI’m fascinated by technology. Not technology for its own sake, application virtualization—allowing your applications tobut how it improves how we work. While adapting to changes run independent of operating system, hardware, co-existinginduced by technology is not without cost in time and money, applications, and to allow different versions of the sameadvances in efficiency and productivity are more than application, such as Microsoft® Excel® 97 alongside Microsoftadequate compensation. Excel 2007, as well as future applications. With this new technology, a virtualized application is decoupled fromTechnology is all about solving problems. As problems are the underlying operating system. Typically, this is done bysolved not only do businesses become more profitable, but providing the application with an abstracted view of thefurther innovations become possible. Adopting technology is operating system resources. The virtualized application canall about balancing cost in time and resources with perceived usually be deployed locally or streamed in process to the user.versus actual real-life gains. While the goals are similar, not all application virtualizationKnowing when to adopt is not as simple as jumping in, it’s technologies are the same. But then, neither are theabout having a careful and thorough plan of implementation. organizations that implement them.When competing technologies come into play, the processbecomes even more difficult. Adopting prematurely Basics of Application Virtualizationwithout understanding the trade-offs can be more costly Application virtualization begins with assessing your currentthan maintaining the status quo. Adopting late with exact and future requirements. Because the underlying technologiesunderstanding and careful implementation is costly for the are diverse, a final implementation can be just as varied as theopposite reason—lingering with out-dated infrastructure and the organization that it transforms.costly upkeep of old technology. Once a plan is in place, the next step is conversion.The best improvements in technology occur when price and AdminStudio is the sole vendor to support applicationfunctionality cause a groundswell in the marketplace. The preparation for today’s leading application virtualizationcurrent groundswell is all about virtualization. environments – Microsoft App-V™, VMware® ThinApp™ and Citrix® XenApp™. Conversion within AdminStudio isTypes of Virtualization straightforward and oftentimes lends itself to anVirtualization touches a wide range of technologies. From automated process.reducing a room full of physical servers to a single, highly-optimized virtual replacement to disassociating a user’s login Let’s take a look at the general process of generating aprofile from a single point of log-on and everything in between, virtualized application. Each application virtualization providervirtualization changes how we think of hardware and software. supports the same general five stage process:Through virtualization the combinations of hardware andsoftware configurations become limited only by imagination. • Capture—each underlying application must be re-bundled into its virtual equivalent. This process consists of convertingAt Flexera Software, an important focus is leveraging the existing application and its install technology into2 Flexera Software: AdminStudio White Paper Series
Get t ing Started wit h Applicat ion Virtualizat ion a collection of files and resources compatible with its virtualization technology. For organizations that have already invested in converting existing applications to Windows Installer technology (.msi packages), AdminStudio makes this process even easier by converting MSI to virtual formats for each technology– SFT for App-V, EXE for ThinApp or Profiles for XenApp. For organizations working with more than one application virtualization technology, AdminStudio simultaneously converts MSI to two or three virtual formats.• Isolation—each application tolerates varying degrees of isolation. While some applications can operate exclusively in a virtual environment, others rely on the underpinning of the host operating system and its resources. Isolation is achieved by running the application with varying degrees of transparency to the underlying operating system. With complete isolation, the application runs with no reliance of Source: App-V Security Best Practices the operating system. In moderate cases, the application has read/write access to specific operating system resources. Each App-V is bundled with Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack application virtualization technology supports some degree of (MDOP). It works by converting or sequencing an existing latitude in assigning isolation. application into an App-V virtualized package. Once virtualized,• Linking—each application has a different relationship with the application is streamed to a user’s computer from a data co-existing applications and resources. It’s impractical to store by a management server. To support licensing compliance, completely isolate an application from shared functionality. the management console verifies correct license attribution. Whenever possible and within the scope of isolation, applications should share access to inter-dependent software WMware ThinApp layers. It’s unreasonable to expect that every .NET™ WMware’s ThinApp application virtualization is unique in that application would be virtualized with its own copy of .NET. it does not require a client. This agentless virtualization makes deploying a painless process. Because the ThinApp virtualized• Deployment—each application has unique running applications are also MSI packages, they can be deployed characteristics just as different users have different use using the reporting and inventorying capabilities of existing requirements. Users with a near permanent network corporate software deployment tools. connection can expect to use virtual applications differently than highly mobile users. The deployment model ranges from a locally installed copy of the virtual application to simply presenting the user interface.• Upgrade—each application also has a requirement to support upgrades. As newer versions of the application become available, the virtualized application needs to reflect the newer binaries. An upgrade scenario could be as simple as modifying the virtualized application on the hosted server or it could be more pervasive—requiring the uninstall and re-install of the locally installed virtualized application.Microsoft App-VMicrosoft Application Virtualization (App-V) is just part of thevendor’s complete virtualization solution. Microsoft virtualizationincludes server virtualization through Hyper-V, desktopvirtualization through Virtual PC and Microsoft Enterprise Source: ThinApp 4.0 Reviewer’s GuideDesktop Virtualization (MED-V), presentation virtualizationthrough Terminal Services and profile virtualization (roaming When a ThinApp virtualized application is created, a virtualprofiles, folder redirection, and so on) through various operating system (VOS) is embedded within the package. Thetechnologies embedded in its operation systems. final package launches and runs without decompressing any files. It can also be run from any data source.Within App-V, Microsoft provides a complete virtual applicationmanagement solution. From management servers that provide While the ThinApp environment does not require a heavystreaming and downloading of virtualized applications to backend infrastructure to manage, each virtualized applicationdata stores that house content, Microsoft provides a thorough includes HTTP/HTTPS byte-level updates. When connectivity isvirtualization architecture. available, updating of the application is possible. 3
Get t ing Started wit h Applicat ion Virtualizat ionCitrix XenAppCitrix XenApp is the application virtualization portion of the Through AdminStudio and an organization’s existing MSIvendor’s virtualization offerings. Citrix XenDesktop refers to the package conversions, Flexera Software consultants can workdesktop virtualization product while Citrix XenServer is the quickly to meet an organization’s application virtualizationserver virtualization. needs. AdminStudio includes tools such as the Virtualization Scanner, which identifies those existing packages that are likelyRunning a XenApp virtualized application requires Citrix client candidates for quick conversion into virtualized applications.software. Local application delivery is possible on Windows AdminStudio includes a time-saving batch conversion tool thatoperating systems. For both Windows and non-Windows moves selected MSI packages into virtualized applicationsoperating systems Citrix offers hosted deployment from a en masse.Windows server. In this case, the application runs on the hostedserver and the user interacts with the application remotely. Flexera Software Consulting Services are also valuable resources for Window 7 migrations, from planning and assessment toLimitations application conversion and rollout.While application virtualization is a near bulletproof solution tothe most vexing conflict and deployment problems it’s not without Flexera Software works closely with application virtualizationlimitations. Each application virtualization technology comes vendors to stay informed about changes in applicationwith its own caveat of implementation. When adopting an virtualization technology. This affords us the opportunity toapplication virtualization technology it’s important to know what work with cutting-edge organizations large and small aroundyou can and cannot do. the globe. Relying on the experts at Flexera Software can save upfront time and money in an application virtualization projectOrganizations hosting proof of concepts of each technology and help to ensure better ROI by establishing best practices thatcan use AdminStudio to accelerate the conversion of a test bed will last over time.of applications to each vendor’s specific virtual format. Savingthis upfront time and effort with AdminStudio allows the proof of About Flexera Softwareconcept to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each virtual Flexera Software is the leading provider of strategic solutionstechnology in an organization’s environment. for Application Usage Management; solutions delivering continuous compliance, optimized usage and maximized valueFlexera Software Supports Application Virtualization to application producers and their customers. Flexera SoftwareFlexera Software supports application virtualization in is trusted by more than 80,000 customers that depend ontwo key areas: consulting and product offering. Flexera our comprehensive solutions- from installation and licensing,Software Consulting Services supports the Flexera Software entitlement and compliance management to applicationmodel of assessment and solution design as well as solution readiness and enterprise license optimization - to strategicallyimplementation. Experienced Flexera Software consultants can manage application usage and achieve breakthrough resultsguide an organization to see the benefits of each technology realized only through the systems-level approach we provide. Forfor their specific goals, allowing a clear decision for the more information, please go to: www.flexerasoftware.comappropriate technology for a unique environment and budget.Most importantly, Flexera Software Consulting Serviceshelp organizations move from developing an applicationvirtualization plan to implementing a working solution. To learn more about Flexera Software Consulting Services, contact us at: http://www.flexerasoftware.com/services/ consulting/contact.htm4